Diwali is a real highlight of the calendar, celebrated throughout India and in other countries with a Hindu population, such as Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia and Mauritius. A time of feasting, family and fun and held between mid-October and mid-November (coinciding with the new moon), Diwali is associated with the goddess Lakshmi.
It is also known as the Festival of Lights, signifying the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and hope over despair. In recognition of this, and to bring luck to the family and local community, during the five days of Diwali homes and temples are festooned with lights, candles and lanterns.
The festival is a hugely popular time for family gatherings, with new clothes, gifts, fireworks and plenty of feasting. It’s easy to recreate that sense of celebration and happiness at home with our seriously good collection of recipes ideal for Diwali feasting, from fragrant curries with chicken or meat to refreshing lassi ice lollies and classic side dishes.
If you’re short of time, instead of making desserts simply visit the bakery at Spinneys and stock up on Indian sweets.
Taking centre stage…
If ever there was a recipe designed for a celebration spread, it has to be this luscious slow-cooked rich lamb shank curry by Anjum Anand, the inspiration behind The Spice Tailor range of curry sauces in store. Staying with lamb, biryani is popular all over India. This version would make an aromatic and crowd-pleasing addition to your meal. Many of the best curries are based on coconut milk, such as this quick-to-prepare Goan chicken curry with coconut milk and tamarind which uses chicken thighs for juicy succulent flavour and a range of spices to light up your Diwali feast.
You can provide plain rice, but it’s fun to add extra touches to your special Diwali dishes. Jeera and peas pulao offers a lightly spiced side dish or rice, with peas and a touch of lemon juice to lift it, while creamy saffron and nut rice proves that at Diwali even accompaniments are given star treatment, with nuts, spices and dried fruit for that festival feeling and saffron adding a wonderful golden glow to the finished dish.
Pakoras, dals, poppadoms and chutneys add to the sense of occasion when creating a celebratory spread. Spicy vegetable pakoras feature potatoes, onions and Indian drumsticks, making them the ideal accompaniment to any of your Diwali curry dishes. Dals are another traditional favourite: this lovely lentil tarka dal with prawns is filling and will provide plenty of fibre as well as a touch of luxury from the prawns. Serve with rice, poppadoms and mango chutney.
Cool things down
Yogurt-based lassi is traditionally drunk to offset the spiciness of curries, but it also provides a good intake of calcium. This perfumed and refreshing cardamom, almond and rosewater lassi is made in just five minutes. For something a little different, gluten-free mango lassi ice lollies, sprinkled with pistachios, will refresh and delight at any time of the day.
A sweet finish
During Diwali, everyone enjoys sweet treats such as these chocolate, cardamom and stem ginger barfi or desserts like kulfi and gulab jamun. If you fancy making something a bit more unusual, these pancakes with coconut filling will go down a treat with the whole family.
You’ll find plenty of decorative items and ingredients in store to make Diwali cooking even easier, such as Anjum Anand’s popular The Spice Tailor range. With sachets of spices and sauce, these curry kits allow you to create an authentic and tasty Indian chicken, meat, fish or vegetable curry dish in minutes.
We took to social media to ask you for your Diwali dishes – here's four authentic recipes perfect for a festival feast.